Orian the adventurer Prose in The Five Skies | World Anvil

Orian the adventurer

Forewords: This story, at least in the beginning, is a translated and improved version of the eponym short story I wrote back in 2021 in French. I don't know how it fares regarding the general WA policy saying that challenges should have new content and might disqualify me, but this story was too fitting not to include it in AA.  

This story is community-driven! During the month of April, I will post a new "chapter" each week end, then you readers will have a week to vote for the direction the story will take. Each time, there will be two or three choices, but you can also add your own propositions! Either in the comments of this article or on Discord, if you suggest a course of action that seem interesting, I will add it to the choices.  

Subscribe to this world if you want to be notified of the release, however be prepared to have regular updates of the same article (I will notify each week when the new "chapter" is published but also when I add a new option). Now then, happy reading!  

For some reason, it seems some readers have a message saying the subscribers slots are full and can't subscribe to any group. Sorry for the inconvenience, I don't know what causes this behavior (I am far from filling out all my slots) and am looking into it.

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Orian thought that he could have it worse. Sure, he crashed on an unknown planet, at the top of a crackling tree, but he was still alive. That was one thing he had that the hundreds of crew members aboard the Arpeggo didn't. The majestic spaceship laid on the other side of a bottomless chasm, its frame ripped open by the fall. He could have it worse. It could be raining.  

As he was saying that out loud, he expected some evil entity to make it happen. What he did not expect was the kind of rain that would pour down the area. If the main bridge crashed first, the rest of the cruise ship dislocated in the upper atmosphere. A myriad of small parts still larger than whole buildings followed the gruesome course of the Arpeggo. The sky turned red, obscured by a dust of flaming particles which consumed themselves before touching the ground.  

If he was to be hit by a metal plate flying at multiple hundreds of kilometers per hour, Orian much preferred to be protected by the thick wall of his life capsule. He came back inside and closed hermetically the strong door. Huddled in the darkness, he waited the end of the apocalyptic downpour.  

The little boy jumped with every impact that seemed to shake the entire planet. He couldn't help but feel guilty about the landscape, disfigured for at least several centuries, if not forever. Repentant, he swore to become a protector of nature, if he ever got out of there alive.  

He surprised himself to be able to think about this kind of superficial thoughts when his life was in great danger. He has never really felt many emotions that other kids seemed to go through. Fear, sadness, stress, even anger was alien to him. Because of that, he was often shunned by the rest of the children who considered him an emotionless freak. But his parents comforted him, saying that was what made him special, a genetic legacy that he should be proud to bear. That would help him overcome even the greatest hurdles. His parents...  

A new series of impacts, far closer than the previous ones, shook the tree he had landed on. Orian could hear the wood crack, each snap making his muscle contract in response. In the distance, he heard multiple tree being thrown at the bottom of a cliff so high the sound of their fall faded away before they hit the ground. There it was, stronger than he ever felt it. Fear finally had a grasp on him.  

Then the wall of the capsule got pierced by a steel plate. The cut was clean, merely slowed down by the meter-thick hull. The sharp metal went to a stop in the other side. A few centimeters below, and Orian's head would have shared the fate of the pod. This time, the tears flowed freely, all mental and biological barriers down. He curled up even more, hoping to wake up from this nightmare.  

Bad day for the landcsape by Rumengol via MidJourney


Orian opened his eyes a few hours later. To his dismay, nothing has changed. He was still in this stupid astronaut costume, in fœtal position inside a gutted life pod. He tried to close and reopen them again, just to see. He even pinched his wet cheek. But no, that was no dream. None that he could wake up from.  

The storm outside seemed to have subsided. The roaring debris all hit the ground, nothing was left of the Arpeggo but a wreck and a scorched landscape. Now that he wasn't in immediate danger anymore, Orian could feel his fear diminish. That was in his nature not to be chained by emotions and go forward. And his immediate concern, going forward, was to find something to fill his stomach. In the turmoil, he let more than tears out, and felt pretty empty at the moment.  

He tried to get up on his feet but smashed his head on the steel plate from before. He fell on his butt, dizzy and hurt. But not as hurt as he should be, he noticed. Could it be the adrenaline that his great-grandfather spoke of so often? It was supposed to numb the pain, among other fantastic things like giving superhuman strength. The boy put both hands on the metal above his head and push with his full strength. The metal did not even budge. Not that much of a superhuman, then.  

On his knees, he probed the interior of the pod for food. The lights went out as he entered the atmosphere, the poorly designed system burnt by the immense heat. Luckily, it wasn't exactly pitch black in there. The light was very faint, but that was enough for Orian. He felt his pupils change, elongate as the vague shapes became clearer until he was able to make out his environment. The capsule was large and equipped enough to accommodate for a long wait for rescue, so it had to have something to eat.  

The bedding was unusable, as the steel pierced the pod just above, leaving no room to lie down between the crude sheets and the probably rusty metal. Behind a safety glass, a plasma rifle undamaged, at least at first sight. It might be useful later. Finally, next to the broken workbench, a shelf held all his hopes and dreams.  

And here it was, food! At least what looked like food. He first picked the metal box labelled "dry biscuits". "Super nutritious", advertised the subtext, exactly what he needed. If he had teeth made of metal. He was unable to break the thick biscuit with his hands, let alone by biting into it. He gave up when one tooth threatened to abandon his gum. There wasn't even a dent on the wafer. Throwing the box away, Orian fell back on the concentrated juice. They were supposed to be consumed in space, as a last resort if the gravity generator were to fail and all other food was more harmful than beneficial. And just like any last resort meal, they tasted horrible.  

Nauseous but reinvigorated, Orian got up to get out of the pod. He tried to turn the broken door with all his might, to no avail. Only a faint ray of light slipped through the tight opening, too tight to even pass a finger. The door that worked so well just before was jammed, leaving the trapdoor. The automatic opening was deactivated just like the rest of the electronic, which forced him to use the good old ways.  

He clearly lacked the strength to make use of the good old ways, and the mechanism of the trapdoor was no more forgiving than the jammed door. Maybe an even older way? Surely a plasma shot will cut through the hull like it was butter, why else would one be bundled with a life pod? He never used a gun, let alone a powerful plasma rifle, but it should not take a genius to activate it. Press the button that shifted the LED from red to green, hold the weapon in a tight grip and press the trigger.  

The recoil took him by surprise. When it spat the burning plasma, the rifle jerked from Orian's hands to hit his chest. For the first time, the boy was glad to wear the uncomfortable suit, which left him breathless rather than crushed to death by his own weapon. It was woefully damaged in the chest area, though. What kind of modern rifle had this kind of recoil, anyway? At least, the plasma melted a way out large enough for him to crawl through. He would have to wait for the bright hot metal to cool down  

Several minutes later, the survivor dragged himself on the pod's roof to get an anxious look of the area. The sky still had the same red taint than before, only it seemed clearer, with less metal particles clouding the sun. Where he expected to be greeted by a scorching wasteland, Orian was surprised to see the wildlife mostly unscathed. The biggest parts of the ship stuck out like a sore thumb and the colossal rocks took a solid hit, but the blazes that should ravage the landscape were nowhere to be seen.  

Far away, the last remnants of the spaceship ended their course in a large river weaving across the immense valley. It flowed into a series of waterfalls before finally dive in the chasm Orian noticed earlier. He was still unable to estimate the depth of this pit, only that he couldn't see the bottom drowned in the mist created by all the falls feeding the insatiable beast. One thing was for certain, he would better not fall, even in the pod.  

On the second look, the whole region seemed to be a wetland, with patch of vegetation bathing in one of the numerous streams crossing the valley. Most of the burning parts fell in the water, raising nothing more than a vapor cloud. And for the rest, the damp air prevented the fire from spreading. He could count a hundred of little smoke clouds coming up from the trees, but they all seemed to be dying.  

The mountains bordering the valley were all steep and clad with forests. The pod was probably sat on the slope of one of them. Despite the wreck of the Arpeggo, the view in front of the young boy was tantalizing, far beyond any of the things he saw behind screens. It was one thing to witness the most impressive sights of the universe in the comfort of his home, and something else entirely to be thrown into the real thing. But he couldn't let himself be distracted from the matter at hands. Not yet.  

Beside the ship, he spotted no trace of civilization. And he had no idea of where he was, the name of the planet or even the system they were in. Whatever happened up there, it wasn't a charted stop. He had no idea what actually happened. His mother woke him up in the dead of night, or what simulated night in a spaceship with no real cycle. She made him wear the antiquated spacesuit, the urgency in her eyes discouraging Orian from any comment.  

Then his father entered the room, and a legion of alarms rang simultaneously. A distorted voice was trying to make an announcement, but the speakers were drowned in the shrills coming from dozens of systems failing. He was bleeding from the head and shoulder, but didn't seem to be even bothered to wipe it off. He typed a code in an obscure box and a wall opened before the dumbfounded eyes of his son. Both his parents kissed him with an intensity he never felt from them, on the forehead and the cheek, before throwing him in the pod. The door shut tight, and all the boy could hear were screams and the thunder of a shooting. Then the capsule was ejected from the already falling ship.  

Were his parents still alive? They had to be. Even amidst the chaos of a torn apart spaceship, his father surely had a way out. He was Olicar Se Nerkka, The most cunning councilor of the High Spires after his own father. And his mother, Merina, was so used to assassination attempts she once fed a hitman his own poison without him noticing. Mean grown-ups had told him that he was unimportant to them. They were both young, barely scratching the century, and could always produce another successor should Orian die or prove useless. It was mostly a way to hurt him and make him distrust his own parents, but they had a part of truth.  

So for sure, if the escape pod was the only way for the powerful couple to survive, he would have been the one on the other side of the ravine, in the darkening rapids. His parents were alive and waiting for him, because it was the only logical course of events, and he had to make them proud. He will survive, too, and find his way back to them.  

Orian got back into the capsule, rummaging the furniture to search for something akin to a distress beacon. He found a lot of inedible biscuit boxes, so much that he doubted it was actually an escape pod and not some sort of depot. Miraculously, the water recycling system seemed to function, or at least to spit out something that tasted like water. And finally, an old model. The device was supposed to send a permanent S.O.S. signal toward the last known relay for decades without energy.  

Considering the age of the machine, its Galactical Navigation Graph was probably outdated. Indeed, the format of the coordinates shown on the backlighted screen rang none of Orian's bell. He could only hope the protocol it relied on was still active in this part of the galaxy. He activated the beacon and strapped it on the flattest surface he could find on the roof. The device also had a broad range signal that should encompass all the planet, so if there was any civilized life on this world, someone would find him. Eventually.  

The chasm by Rumengol via MidJourney


The eighth day he was out of juice. He tried to ration as much as possible, but there weren't many in the first place. Fortunately, he discovered by accident that the biscuits softened until they were edible if he poured some water on them. They tasted even worse than the concentrated liquids, he was about to puke with each bite at first. At least he would not starve to death, which was only a meager comfort when faced with this kind of food.  

Downpour by Rumengol via MidJourney


The thirteenth day, the recycler spat muddy water. The diluvian rain of the previous day did a number on the pod and Orian nearly drowned. He had managed to save the most sensible material and the food just in time. The mud took the whole night to evacuate through the cracked door.  

The next day, the young boy bid farewell to the pod that sheltered him for the past month. A full month, and no rescue team to be seen, even across the chasm. He could not just wait and see if he would die first of starvation or dehydration. He had to be proactive when he still had supplies and survive until help arrive.  

He did not just idle and cry about his fate all this time, although he did that a lot. He had found a noblet, a tablet using very little energy that had no other function than taking notes with the stylet. Not even a virtual keyboard. There was also a paperback notebook and a pen, but Orian wanted to use it as little as possible. In his situation, paper was a more precious resource than the tablet's lifespan, and was more versatile.  

First, he wrote down everything that happened to him since that fateful night, his theories, struggles, and hopes. He drew a map of the valley, what he could see from his view high the trees. His first objective was the wreck of the Arpeggo, which sunk a bit more with each day. With a stroke of luck, he would find more advanced technology there. A second beacon, maybe. Or even survivors? It was a lot further than he initially thought, but he was resolute.  

Going around the chasm would be quite the treck, counting in days or even weeks. The chasm was very large, and he was at the exact opposite of his destination. Orian wasn't sure that it will only be a walk on land, as many of the rivers were hidden by the dense vegetation. He knew how to swim, but the flow seemed to accelerated or slow down with no apparent logic, and he would be heavily burdened.  

Alternatively, he could try to go down the chasm and make his way directly to the other side on a straight line. This plan had a lot of unknowns, though. He would need to find a way down, hope that there was a solid bottom and not a deep lake hidden by the mist. And then he could only hope there was a way up. From afar, the rocks seemed very slippery, and he was not in an athletic shape, but maybe there was a path somewhere? It would cut the trip at least in half, perhaps more.  

Whatever the case, he would need to be prepared. He put all the food in a single box and stuffed it in a backpack with the beacon, and attached the plasma rifle on his back using a makeshift rope and too much tape he found in a repair box. The weapon was far too powerful for him to wield properly, but he couldn't venture into the unknown unarmed. In spite of everything, the young boy felt excited.  

Orian the adventurer was about to begin his first adventure, and the world should better be ready for him!  

Zone of the crash by Orian

Which way will Orian go?


Episode 2 — First Night


All things considered — even the danger —, going down was the most sensible choice. It would certainly be very dangerous, perhaps each step will put his life on the line, but that did not deter him. He was a Se Nerkka, the blood in his veins granted him abilities beyond that of a mere human. He could fall from a high place and not get hurt too badly, he was a great swimmer if the bottom happened to be filled with water, and his small size was actually a boon when it came to climbing, not that he had done a lot of that. He hesitated for several minutes, then took a last glance at the smoke curls coming from below and got on the move.


The first step was to climb down the tree. He had done the acrobatics multiple times around the month he spent around the escape pod, but it was something else entirely to do so while carrying the backpack and the heavy rifle. Orian tied the rope to a branch that looked strong enough to hold his weight and began to slide down. The tree cracked and groaned, but ultimately held up. Fortunately, he was already low enough so that he had to drop less than a meter to reach the ground.


The newfound adventurer landed on the steep slope of the hill, almost unbalanced by his backpack. He laid it on a rock and proceeded to climb back up the tree to get the rope back. He thought he could use this strategy to get down the chasm, using the rope to get the heavy weights down and going back to get it. Only now he realized he has been a little presumptuous with this plan. Coming down from the tree had already been exhausting, there was no way he was to do that for a whole cliff.


As he rolled the rope, Orian pondered his options, and finally elected to go ahead and see. Even getting to the edge of the pit was an adventure on its own. He scouted the area before, but never got so far as to glance into the void. Heavily burdened, the treacherous forest was even more dangerous. There was no path between the trees, and he could progress through the woods without deviating too much only thanks to the ground that was more rocks than soil. If the vegetation was as lush as it seemed, the valley was probably impracticable. He had made the good choice not to go in the tall grass.


That did not make the progression easy. The rocks were crackled when not outright pierced by the powerful trees which crawled their way from below, making the ground uneven. Orian wondered what kind of plants was able to smash through stone. He always thought of vegetation as a fragile thing, eager to die more than anything else if left without care. That was how they behaved back at home, at least. His thoughts wandered toward his ancient life, and he was surprised to realize that he did not miss it that much. Back then, he was bored more often than not, trapped in a golden cage without much in the way of adventure.


Here, even a step forward was a peril to overcome. Of course, he had been pretty hung up on getting back home, and cried a lot about it. Chemicals messing with his usual, rational self that took multiple days to fade. But then he stepped out of the pod and began checking his surroundings, astonished by the raw beauty of untouched nature. Or, as untouched as the crashing site of an interstellar cruise ship could be. The adventure he always yearned was right in front of him, ripe for the taking. And if there was anything that his father told him, it's that turning down opportunities was a capital sin.


Orian was still wearing the cumbersome space suit that made him look like an astronaut of old, helmet included. It was a complete transparent bubble of a material that looked and felt like glass, but was not quite glass. Beside its top grade insulation, it was strong enough to prevent injuries for space workers if an incident led them to crash into a hull at multiple time what the terminal velocity would be on this planet. The rest of the suit was not half as sturdy, and the young boy knew he would break all of his bones before hurting his head. That was comforting, in a way.

Orian going down the mountain


It took Orian the whole day to reach the edge of the pit. He stopped a lot, the effort weighting on him. He was decently athletic for his age, but never had a real incentive to train his body. And he discovered that if he was superior to most humans on a great number of metrics, his endurance was severely lacking. He tried to blame the weight of the backpack, then the suit, the poor food he has been eating since he landed, and finally his poor physical education. When venting didn't help, and wasn't making him feel better either, he stopped making excuses and merely rambled.


By the end of the day, he was drenched in his own sweat and so hot he suspected a fever. Yet he never took the helmet off. Over the day, swarms of mosquitoes as big as his fist circled around him, looking for an opening in his armor. Despite the heat and exhaustion, Orian never let his guard down and kept safe at all time. He had expected the planet to be inhabited by animal life, but not the size of the insects. He was afraid to meet the monsters these bloodsuckers usually preyed on.


As the large sun disappeared behind tall mountains in the distance, darkness crept into the region. Orian decided to set camp, as not even a kid was stupid enough to attempt what he was about to do in the dark. He possessed something akin to night vision, but it wasn't that good, and he had the intuition that he would need all the light available to achieve the descent.


Something else occurred to him as he looked for a tree to spend the night: he had not brought anything to sleep on. Not that he would have been able to transport the heavy blanket, but he did not even think about it. What a joke of an adventurer he was! He slapped himself, the gloved palm meeting the hard material of the helmet. The sound echoed inside the suit as he pulled back a trembling hand.


The backpack was too heavy for Orian to lift it up a tree, especially after a day of painful trek. Instead, he took two biscuits and a gourd from the bag, closed it hermetically and stored it inside a small cavity. To conceal his belongings to the eyes of animals, he covered the hole with a large but lightweight stone and a mix of leaves. He marked the spot with a standing stick before searching for a suitable shelter for the night.


The boy finally settled for a nearby tree which had low enough branches for him to climb like a stair, without much effort. By chance, the tip of the trunk formed a bowl just large enough for him to lie down. Not too uncomfortable, but he was certain that he would wake up with sore muscles. He only lifted the helmet to eat and drink, before putting it back on. As it had done multiple time throughout the day, the buzzing sound of the living forest took him by surprise. Up the slope he couldn't hear much, but now that he was at the heart of the woods it was impossible to ignore.


Thankfully, the helmet dampened the sound from outside to near silence if he activated the solar shield. It also darkened the transparent material, and while it was ideal for sleeping, a true adventurer should never be completely unaware of his surroundings. Wincing a bit, Orian remembered the advice of his great-grandfather and lowered the shield. He closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would come to him in no time.


Hours later, he was still wide awake. The chirping and rustling of the evening had quieted down, and nocturnal creatures were awake. It turned out that most of them were predators, looking for sleeping and defenseless preys. The forest was quieter than ever, with the silence only broken by the occasional scream in the distance. To Orian's relief, none of them sounded human. It was the cycle of life, he told himself. Something that he would better be out of.


Once or twice, Orian had risked a glance below him and distinguished vague shapes lurking in the darkness. Their hide was too dark for him to get a good look, and he could only guess the outline of massive figures that reminded him vaguely of the felines he had saw in videos.


He never looked for too long, afraid that they would spot him and jump on the tree to devour him. Orian had elected not to take the rifle with him, thinking that it would just take space on a branch and that he couldn't use it anyway. It was a sound argument then, not so much now. He could still count on the suit to hide his scent. Suddenly, having to put up with his smell was not so bad, if it meant he was the only one smelling it.


As he took another timid glance outside his shelter, Orian caught a peculiar sight.


Dawn took Orian by surprise. He didn't remember falling asleep, and yet his last memory was of a bright night sky illuminated by millions of stars. He was not feeling rested, though. As predicted, he felt sore in his whole body from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. He let out a groan instead of a yawn when getting up. The breakfast was as boring and unsavory as usual. Orian added tasty food to the list of things he expected to find in the wreck of the Arpeggo. For the twelfth time.


The predators seemed to have all returned to their lair before the first light of day. Just to be sure, Orian waited a bit and surveilled his surroundings. The forest was still engulfed in shadows, but the rays of light seeping through the foliage was more than enough to let the boy see like it was daytime. Once he was certain no creature laid in ambush, he jumped down the tree to retrieve the bag containing all he had.


His trick had worked, or none of the animals were interested in the sturdy fabric. Either way, he was glad to see the cache undisturbed. This was the day of the descent, and while he was not at his peak, he had the feeling it would never be better, even if he waited several days.


On the brink of the chasm, he took the time to observe the task ahead. Now that he was closer than ever, the pit seemed both deeper and shallower than he expected. There was, without a doubt, a floor down there. It was hardly visible because of the mist forming a permanent cloud. Since it wasn't filled despite the myriad of waterfalls pouring insane volumes in the reservoir, it must mean there was a way for the water to evacuate, and thus a solid path for him to cross. Orian told that more to convince himself than because he thought it was right.


A glance at the Arpeggo strengthened his resolve. He was an adventurer now, and people might need him. It was his duty to come to their aid as fast as he could, if anyone was still alive out there. With the straps of the backpack tightened, he began to climb down. He chose a place with no nearby fall. There, the rocks were dry, at least on the top. The first dozens of meters proved easier than he expected, as the relief formed something close to a stair. A stair with meters-tall steps.


Rather than a climb, all Orian had to do was to hang on the ledge and let himself drop. It was sometimes hard on the knees, but they held up nonetheless. If the terrace pattern continued all the way down and on the other side, Orian was pretty confident in his ability to reach the ship in two or three days.


He passed by numerous nests, hidden behind rocks or laid in plain sight above the edge of a plateau. The eggs were humongous, compared to what he was used to. The birds had probably flown off when the ship crashed and had yet to return to take care of their offsprings. Orian had not seen any flying creature in his time on the planet, but given the size of the eggs, he was not looking forward to the encounter.


The deeper he went, the less nest he found. The surface became wet, drenched in the droplets coming up for below. Slippery, taller and tighter too. Soon, it was not a matter of jumping down, but he had to properly climb down, carefully picking sturdy handles. The backpack was pulling him down and away from the wall. Each rock flat enough for him to site provided a welcomed respite. He was feeling hungry and thirsty, but the surrounding air was moist. Orian refused to compromise the hermeticity of the backpack by opening it, as he wasn't sure how the delicate electronics would fare. It was not an issue for modern devices, however the beacon was anything but modern.


He reached the droplet fog by midday. Or was it already the end? His perception of time was disrupted and the inside of the chasm was cut off from most of the outside light. It was even worse now, as he could see very little. For once, his genetically enhanced eyes fell short. They were wonderful when he needed to see in the dark or figure out something far away, but they were of little help when trying to see through mist.


Eventually, the worst happened. He was going down for what felt hours, slowly feeling his strength and awareness drain. He was feeling the wall behind him to find a foothold when he slipped. With everything slowing down, almost to a stop, Orian could see himself fall. It was happening, then it wasn't. A dream that his exhausted mind came up with. Except it was no dream, and he could not wake up. Only pray that he had been wrong, and water awaited him instead of a hard ground.


The fall came to a rough halt. Something break, he could feel it. Not what. All his senses were dulled, he was not feeling anything. Before he passed out, he discerned several figures approaching him cautiously. Orian wanted to say something, but the words failed to come out of his mouth before he passed out.


Orian will be rescued by people who will see him as...



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Apr 9, 2024 01:52 by LexiCon (WordiGirl)

neat idea! much success with the story. very interesting...I read the original and Orian's personal article. Lovely character work, and I like how you added more detail here! it certainly counts as a new story, in my opinion! Especially with this choice aspect addition. <3

Apr 9, 2024 20:36

Thank you so much! I'm very glad you liked it and went to read both this and the original! I felt the characterisation was lacking before, now Orian is more complete as a person.

Hoo~ Hoo
Apr 16, 2024 00:02 by Myth Cross

This is definitely an awesome concept! I can't wait to see how all of this plays out! Choose your own adventures are way cool and I think you have a great idea/ process here! Well done and looking forward to the next Chapter! : D


Tell me stories! Here's your Ticket to the World of Arc Sagas!

Apr 16, 2024 08:55

Thank you! It's very experimental but it's coming out great so far :D

Hoo~ Hoo